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Boogaard: A Spin on the Wheel of Justice

Derek Boogaard inflicted a knee-to-knee hit on Ryan Jones on Friday night. On Saturday, Colin Campbell spun the NHL Wheel of Justice, and it came up two games. Our very unscientific poll came up with that result being what people felt he should get. Side note: I would like to thank all of those who voted after the suspension was handed down. You get no points or prizes for being right. I wanted your opinion, not the right answer.

So. Two games. How do feel about this? I am 100% confident that my opinion is not going to be a popular one. As one reader once asked, "Is it possible to troll your own blog?" I will share my opinion after the jump. Please, be gentle. Let's take our ride on the wheel of justice.


First, here is the video again:


Now. I have read comments on the last post that feel that five games would have been excessive, unfair, not the right way to go. I agree with the last two. You see, I am of a torn mind. I like Derek Boogaard. I like that he is a member of the team, and I hope the re-sign him, just so long as he doesn't expect a raise. I like the physical, intimidating presence he brings to the game, simply by being on the bench.

I have watched games when he and John Scott are out of the line up. For all of those who don't think the NHL needs enforcers, watch the shift in play when your team has one compared to when they don't. The opposition is keenly aware of the fact and adjusts their willingness to run around accordingly.

I am on the record as being a big fan of old school hockey. I wish there were still bench clearing brawls. I wish more guys would pull a Matt Bradley and ensure that their super star isn't throwing punches at the risk of his health and that of the team. I wish every team had a Derek Boogaard, and I wish the NHL would get off my back about liking that style of hockey.

If you don't like goons, and you don't want them in the game, so be it. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. If you don't watch hockey because of goons and fighting, good. We don't want you to watch anyway. I think figure skating is on on NBC still. Enjoy.

Now, on to the unpopular part.

I think Boogey should have gotten seven to ten games for this offense. Before you take my head off, let me explain. (At this point, please pause while those who refuse to read any further jump to the comment section and tell me how stupid I am.)

Still with me? Good. Here is my thinking. While I hate that Boogey will be out of the line-up against Calgary today. However, I hate the message this suspension sends more than I will miss Boogey. The knee-to-knee hit used to only be a tripping call. It was a two minute minor, and nothing more. It was a "hockey play." Then, it started to be recognized as ending careers. The NHL stepped in and issued their weak little ultimatum. They would "crack down" on these dangerous hits.

Then, they would do nothing, as usual.

As one comment in the last thread pointed out, Ovechkin only got two games after going knee-to-knee earlier in the season. The difference is that Ovechkin, for better or worse, had no prior suspensions. That is supposed to be a factor in this. If a guy has prior offenses, the punishment is supposed to get worse, not easier. Boogey has a prior five game suspension from last season. One I believed to be too long, but it is what it is.

Punishment for offenses needs to be clear. Transparent. It needs to be spelled out, and unequivocal. There should be case by case examination, sure, but only for mitigating circumstances to determine if suspension is due or if the suspension should be worse than it would normally be. Case by case basis examination should not make it possible for a repeat offender to get less of a punishment than he did before.

Boogey had a five game suspension last year. If the NHL felt two games were warranted here, it should have been seven. Five games for being a repeat offender, and two for the knee. We all love Down Goes Browns flow chart, and it is loved because of it's truth and humor. The NHL needs to have a real chart, with levels of suspension for each offense and increasing punishment for repeat offenses. It needs to be crystal clear to fans and players alike.

Just because Boogey wears a red sweater does not make me change my opinion of the NHL discipline system. It is a joke, and it is dangerous. Boogaard deserved more than two games for this. Regardless of intent. Besides, how do you determine intent? Is a player really going to come out and say "I couldn't get him clean, so I stuck my leg out, squirmy little bastard should have taken the hit." No, it won't happen. So, I ask again, how do you determine intent?

At some point intent needs to be set aside, and the act itself needs to be punished. You want to get rid of knee-to-knee hits? Suspend players for them, and harshly. Increase the severity with each offense. They will stop. Apply it to head shots, and they too will stop.

Here's the deal. As much as I want to come to the defense of Boogey, I can't. It was a dirty hit, and he deserved more than two games. I love the goons, I love that they play on the line and just over it. I love the danger involved in that. I love the intimidation of that. I don't want to see anyone get hurt, and at the same time, part of the love of a game such as hockey is that at any moment, someone could. I love that. The league shouldn't. The league should be doing everything in its power to protect the players.

Re-reading this, it sounds hypocritical, as if I want to be on both sides of the fence. I am on both sides of the fence. I don't want the goons removed from the game. At the same time, I want them punished when they make dirty plays. If you stop and think about it for a second, the two can be reconciled.

For those of you who read all the way to the end before commenting, I thank you. You may now commence tearing me a new one.